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Learning from the Black Swan


Nassim Nicholas Taleb was right. The world financial system was recently devastated by unpredicted catastrophes of grand proportion – a financial black swan – and struggles today to recover and explain the carnage. Taleb predicted such an event in his 2007 bestseller The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable. In 2005, Taleb took on the investment community with his highly entertaining Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life., in which he assails the financial services community for its dumb luck, its hubris and its reckless conduct.  With no shortage of ego, Taleb iterates his financial doom and gloom theme with a vengeance in a Feb 2, 2009 Forbes interview, castigating the industry for its overconfidence and its lax risk-control models built on faulty assumptions. For Taleb, the extraordinary booms and busts experienced over the last 20 years are far outside the tidy predictions of our cherished bell curve models. Fat tails are, unfortunately, facts of financial life.

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